McDonalds, an altar call and the usher

September 1st, 2010 · by Tom Stuart · Overcoming, Window into my Soul

The power of temptation is the rationalization that goes with it.  “Just this once” it reasons, “it’s not like I’m going to make a habit of this.  After all I’ve been through I owe it to myself.”  That is basically how I justified myself coming off my very restrictive diet in making plans for a trip to McDonalds.

I love their cheeseburger and French fries and vanilla shakes.  Always have!  For years now I have been walking in victory and built up a pretty disciplined resistance to such temptation in order to control my blood pressure and cholesterol.  In my twenties, thirties and early forties however, the two cheeseburger meal was my staple any time I was not eating at home. 

By mid-afternoon on Monday I had succumb, compliantly acquiescing to “you deserve a break today” mentality.  Afterward, I could only lick my lips and think “Oh how sweet forbidden fruit tastes” – truly the sign of an unrepentant sinner.

Maybe if I had heard Pastor Mark’s sermon on Sunday about the risk of weirdness, it likely could have been a deterrent to my fall.  Sadly I was not able to be there. I heard it was great.  At the least, now I do not feel so bad about confessing my cheeseburger and fries fetish.  Mark’s message was about our reasoning in why we don’t risk getting to really know each other. (You can see a quick 3 point recap on his blog.)  The first reason is “I’m weird… and I don’t want you to know it.”  

Yesterday I began reading the book of Lamentations as part of my annual journey through the Bible.  In chapter one verse fourteen I read this verse.  “He wove my sins into ropes to hitch me to a yoke of captivity.”  Those words jumped right off the page and lassoed my heart.  What a graphic warning of where the accommodation to temptation leads.  Bondage is woven out of what initially is nothing more than mere threads of reasoned excuses for sin.  But thread upon thread of cheeseburgers, fries and shakes accumulating and woven together will entrap anyone in a spare tire around ones midsection.

In my late twenties before I became a pastor one of the volunteer positions I enjoyed doing was ushering, despite having to wear a suit and tie.  I was on duty one Sunday when we had a guest speaker.  His message was on the sin of gluttony, one of what are called the Seven Deadly Sins.  For some reason, and I cannot recall after all these years, that message brought great conviction of sin to my soul.  When the preacher offered an altar call for prayer I was sitting in the back wrestling with what to do. 

With a growing sense of guilt I realized I was being drawn to the front but no one in our small congregation was responding.  Finally after what seemed an eternity, I could resist the call to repentance no longer.  I stood up and began reverently making my way down the center aisle.  The pastor of the church who was sitting in front near the altar facing the congregation, as pastors back then were want to do, saw me coming.  He thought his usher was coming to take the offering.  He whispered something to the guest preacher who quickly returned to his perch by the altar, fetched the offering plates from the altar and positioned himself at the head of the aisle. 

At just that moment, I met him in my broken state, looked up, and there were the offering plates being extended to me. 

Confused and humbled I paused momentarily.  Then not wanting to be embarrassed, I took the plates, turned and proceeded to take the offering.  So much for dealing with the sin of gluttony in my life, until well. . . yesterday.

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4 Responses to “McDonalds, an altar call and the usher”

  1. Loved this! Funny, with a good message.

  2. Pastor Tom….you have such a gift of writing and bringing to life what you are sharing. Your post made me laugh, but also in all seriousness was a wonderful message and reminder about how we treat out bodies. Thank you.

  3. Never would have imagined you having to deal with gluttony. You seem so healthy. I sure struggle with this. Temptation seems too overpowering! Even with Mark’s sermon advice it is too over powering. You should write some more advice on how to overcome temptation when it seems all has been tried. How do you find freedom from an addiction, in my case, food addiction??

  4. Amy – Appearences are often deceiving. How we may look on the outside is not necessarily a reflection of what is going on inside. The Word of God and the Spirit of God have a way of probing and putting the finger on the the thoughts and intentions of our heart. I am no expert by any means in terms of dealing with “overpowering temptations.” A standard Biblical approach however will always include 1. Acknowledging one has a problem/sin. 2. Asking and receiving forgiveness from Jesus. 3. Renouncing the sin and taking aurthority over any evil spirits that may be involved. 4. Praying against and cutting off any generational curses that may be the cause. 5. Removing every source of temptation and praying for protection from temptation. 6. Asking for outside help from an accountability partner (s) and/or wise counselor.

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